Lemista puts down classic marker

Lemista puts down classic marker
Numerian, with Declan McDonogh up, on his way to winning the Devoy Stakes. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Chris Hayes landed the Group 3 Lodge Park Stud Park Express Stakes on the Ger Lyons-trained Lemista as part of an 80/1 big-race double on the opening day of the 2020 Irish Flat season yesterday.

Lyons saddled two for the feature event, notably 5/6 favourite Even So, the mount of stable-jockey Colin Keane. 

And while the Camelot filly finished a pleasing third, victory went to Lemista (8/1), in the colours of Sean Jones.

Hayes challenged down the centre of the course on the Raven’s Pass filly and she stayed on dourly to hold off Hamariyna by three-quarters of a length, with Even So a neck away in third.

“I’m very happy with her,” said Shane Lyons. “She wants a mile and a half and is in the Oaks. The horses are forward and both fillies have been working well. 

"So you can’t leave them at home when there are races like this for them.

“You need a horse with stamina for that ground and you saw the way she stayed on up the hill. 

"She won her maiden by five lengths and is an exciting filly, not a Guineas filly, but more an Oaks type. 

"Chris felt that she’ll be better on better ground, that she wasn’t able to stretch on that ground.”

Speaking about Even So, he added: “She ran a cracker. She just got a bit tired half a furlong down, which was understandable. 

"She needs better ground and is in the Guineas.”

Earlier, Hayes won the Naas Racecourse Business Club Madrid 3-Y-0 Handicap for the fourth time in five years (including subsequent Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Awtad) when he brought the Mick Mulvany-trained In From The Cold with a sustained challenge to outpoint Camachita by a half-length, with the winner’s better-fancied stable-companion The King Of Kells back in third.

A delighted Mulvany explained: “The extra 6lb. probably put an end to the other horse’s chance of winning it. 

But this fellow looked nicely handicapped and we knew that he’d stay a bit further, so he’d come home well.

“Chris said he was under a bit of pressure a long way out, but that he stayed going up the hill. 

"He’ll have no problem getting a mile, and maybe a bit further. 

"We have the team in good form and this is a great way to start the season.”

The Joseph O’Brien-trained Numerian lowered the colours of Ballydoyle hot-pot Sir Dragonet in the listed Devoy Stakes.

The four-year-old, consistent in handicap company last season, squeezed through to challenge before the furlong-pole and stretched clear to beat Ballydoyle hope Sir Dragonet, the 8/15 favourite, by two and three-quarter lengths.

Brendan Powell, representing the winning trainer stated: “That was a nice performance and he can only improve. 

"Declan said they quickened a long way out, but he’s tough and stays well.

That ground is far from ideal for him. He can only improve from today and might develop into a Group horse.

"He’s very genuine and looks the finished article compared to last year.”

Although the Ballydoyle runners ran creditably throughout the card, the team had to wait until the finale, a one-mile maiden, to open the 2020 account as 2/1 favourite Russian Emperor and Seamus Heffernan swooped late to deny newcomer Lobo Rojo by a short-head in a race which looks certain to produce plenty of future winners.

“It’s been a long day and it’s nice to get one,” said Heffernan.

“He’s a fine, big colt and had a lovely run last year. 

"He got a bit lost in the race but, when I switched him out, the penny dropped and he picked-up and won well.

“Aidan’s horses usually improve an awful lot, not just through fitness but after hibernation over the winter. 

"This fellow finished off his race well. He’s a Group horse and, if he gets a mile and a half, he could be top-notch.”

The honour of taking the season-opening two-year-old maiden went to Jim Bolger as the well-touted Poetic Flare, a Dawn Approach colt, in the colours of the trainer’s wife Jackie, outpointed fellow 2/1 joint-favourite Lipizzaner, the Ballydoyle representative, ridden by Seamus Heffernan, by a half-length.

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